Wyoming sorority supports trans sisters, Elon Musk says ‘cis’ is a slur, U.K. politicians driving anti-drag sentiment, Florida trans care ban struck down, Starbucks union strike

5 queer and trans stories we’re watching: June 23

Good afternoon to all our queers! If you’re in one of the cities that’s launching into Pride Weekend (or maybe you started last night…), we’re sending you good vibes for a celebratory, radical and safe weekend. But before you run off to 48 hours of festivities, don’t forget to check out the five queer and trans stories that we’ve deemed essential reading. 

1. A Wyoming sorority is fighting to keep its trans members 
2. Elon Musk said “cis” is a slur
3. A U.K. study found that politicians and conspiracy theories are driving anti-drag sentiment
4. A judge struck down Florida’s ban on trans healthcare 
5. Starbucks union will strike over Pride decorations and labour violations

1. A Wyoming sorority is fighting to keep its trans members 

Well, sometimes our allies come where we’d least expect them. (*Cheers in sorority girl*) Members of the University of Wyoming chapter of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority are putting up a legal battle to keep their trans members in-house

This all began in March, when seven members sued the sorority, alleging that the chapter violated its own rules by admitting a trans member, Artemis Langford. But in an act of true sisterly solidarity, the Kappa Kappa Gammas moved to dismiss the motion, their first substantive response to the suit. Their motion pointed out that it’s been the sorority’s policy since 2015 to include trans women across its 145 chapters, and that, if the sisters who are against changing the policy were a majority, they would theoretically be able to change that policy without outside influence. Or, it adds, they could simply resign if the situation is “too offensive” to them. 

“What they cannot do is have this court define their membership for them,” the motion asserts. Work, sisters! 

2. Elon Musk said “cis” is a slur

The terrible Twitter overlord strikes again—and during Pride Month, no less. This week, a known anti-trans activist, James Esses, wrote on the social media platform that he’d posted about rejecting the words “cis” and “cisgendered” and afterwards received a slew of messages telling him he was cis “whether he liked it or not.” Musk replied that “repeated, targeted harassment against any account will cause the harassing accounts to receive, at minimum, temporary suspensions. The words ‘cis’ or ‘cisgender’ are considered slurs on this platform.” Which is rich, for someone with a notably bleak track record for curbing actual hate speech and harassment. 

Researcher Dana Defosse, who coined the term cisgender as a way of describing people who are not trans, told Huffpost that Musk’s announcement was no surprise considering his “ghastly history of attacking trans people.” She called it a futile attempt to ban a larger conversation about gender identity on the platform. Here’s one vote for returning to MySpace or Tumblr! 


3. A U.K. study found that politicians and conspiracy theories are driving anti-drag sentiment 

Speaking of powerful people with trashy ideologies—it’s common knowledge at this point that anti-drag sentiment and anti-trans sentiment (which are of course intertwined) are on the rise basically everywhere. In the U.K., a new study found that this hate is being fueled by both members of the Tory government and conspiracy theories imported from the U.S.

A new report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), whose mandate is to protect human rights and curb extremism, found that a “loose coalitions of extremists, conspiracy theorists, local activists and fringe political actors,” including far-right groups, fundamentalist religious activists and anti-LGBTQ+ right-wing influencers, are to blame for the growing anti-drag movement in the U.K. 

Specifically, the report names Tory Deputy Chair Lee Anderson and his “culture war” rhetoric for escalating anti-LGBTQ2S+ sentiment. It also talks about the negative impact of U.S.-based groups like Gays against Groomers and Libs of TikTok, whose’s homophobic and transphobic ideologies have unfortunately traveled across the pond. 

4. A judge struck down Florida’s ban on trans healthcare 

Some real justice coming in from the courts this week y’all! On Wednesday, a federal judge struck down Florida’s health code rule and state law that restricted the use of Medicaid coverage for gender dysphoria treatments. The Ron DeSantis-led block, signed in May, barred potentially thousands of adults and minors from using Medicaid coverage for hormone treatment, puberty blockers, surgery, and other procedures to treat gender dysphoria—though these procedures would be covered if used for other conditions. 

These types of treatments amount to life-saving care, which Judge Robert Hinkle noted in his ruling against the policy. Hinkle wrote that Florida’s ban breached federal laws regarding Medicaid, the constitutional right to equal protection, and the prohibition of sex discrimination under the Affordable Care Act. 

Hinkle went on to write that Florida had prohibited Medicaid coverage for trans healthcare treatments for “political reasons” using a biased and unscientific process. “Pushing individuals away from their transgender identity is not a legitimate state interest,” he added. The ruling joins several recent major decisions from judges overturning gender-affirming care bans in states like Arkansas and Indiana. We love to see it!

5. Starbucks union will strike over Pride decorations and labour violations

After accusing Starbucks of preventing employees from putting up Pride decorations earlier this month, Starbucks Workers United announced today that it will be participating in Strike with Pride, a week-long unfair labour practice strike. Over the next week, 3,000 workers at over 150 stores will strike. (The company denies banning the Pride-themed decorations). 

Workers are demanding that the company negotiate a fair contract with union stores, and cease union-busting activities. According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the coffee giant has violated workers rights “hundreds of times” by threatening and spying on employees, enforcing strict dress codes and more. 

“Starbucks is scared of the power that their queer partners hold, and they should be. Their choice to align themselves with other corporations that have withdrawn their ‘support’ of the queer community in the time we need it most shows that they are not the inclusive company they promote themselves to be,” said Moe Mills, a shift supervisor from Missouri, in a press release. “We’re striking with pride to show the public who Starbucks really is, and to let them know we’re not going anywhere.” Another timely reminder that Pride is a protest! 🏳️‍🌈

🌈Bonus good news (because we need it)🌈

Mega shoutout to our favorite pop star ally Lizzo, who just donated USD $50,000 to the Martha P. Johnston Institute, an organization that protects and advocates for Black trans people. 

Lizzo’s big donation—one of several to organizations that focus on supporting and uplifting Black communities—was in honour of Juneteenth, a federal U.S. holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. In the Instagram video in which she announced the donation, she said, “We know what Marsha P. Johnson has done for the LGBTQ—emphasis on that TQ community,” shouting out the iconic trans activist the institute is named after. “You deserve this,” Lizzo said of the Institute, “I hope this helps you so much as you help protect our Black trans family.” Now that is good as hell.

Maddy Mahoney (she/her) is a journalist and writer based in Toronto. You can find her work at CBC Arts, Maisonneuve, Toronto Life, Loose Lips Magazine and others. She lives in Toronto and speaks English.

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